Books

Books

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: Cards from Khloe's Book Shop by Isabella Louis Anderson

Khloe's FlowershopPurrfectly Bookish: Cards from Khloe's Flower Shop
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Cards from Khloe's Flower Shop by Isabella Louise Anderson
Publisher: Chick Lit Goddess, LLC. 
Publication Date: January 15, 2017
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Publisher's description


As the owner of a successful florist shop, Khloe Harper trusts her instincts. She has a strong bond with her family and friends, but after being betrayed by her last love, she's kept herself at arms’ length from romance. When dashing entertainment attorney Derek Thomas walks into her store, Khloe’s interest is piqued. What at first seems like a business relationship quickly turns into romance, and Derek slowly plucks away the petals she’s been hiding behind. Just as Khloe lets down her guard, she discovers that Derek may not be worthy of her love after all. Frumpy Connie Albright has a faux fascination with an imaginary man named Walt, thinking that by sending herself flowers from him she’ll feel less out-of-place with the “mean girls” she works with. When she comes face to face with her possible prince charming and thinking she might have a happy ending, when a truth is revealed, she wonders if she’ll ever have a Cinderella story. A recently widowed senior, Gabby Lewis, isn't ready to give up on love—which means releasing herself from survivor's guilt and taking a chance on finding happiness and companionship again. After signing up for an online dating site for senior citizens, much to her surprise, she’s matched with Harry, an energetic and loving man, who quickly eases himself into her heart. Will Gabby take the leap of falling in love again, knowing it’s possible to have two loves of her life? As each woman’s story develops through flowers and cards sent from Khloe's shop during the Fall months, they begin to learn that love can only truly blossom when you trust your heart.


My Review

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Khloe owns a flower shop - her dream come true. Every day she helps customers find their happily ever after by providing stunning floral arrangements and, most importantly, heartfelt cards of sentiment. However, after having her own heart broken, she's pretty certain she is never going to find her own happily ever after. Well, she very nearly jinxes it by her bizarre behavior toward the handsome love interest who walks in her door one day. I wanted to shake her on more than one occasion. I think her character was real but I'm not sure that Derek's acceptance of her oddball behavior was realistic. I think 99% of men would have run to the hills with the first hint of her serious trust issues. 

Gabby and Connie were both more interesting than Khloe. I loved Gabby and really rooted for her to find happiness again after losing the love of her life. The new relationship was pretty sugary sweet, but that was totally okay! Because you really could see a situation like hers.  And poor Connie.  While I think the reason why the "mean girl" was so awful was a bit forced, I have definitely seen horrible people target someone with low self esteem like Connie and just torture them. And I think her choices in dealing with several situations were very realistic.  

I found the sexy scenes didn't all seem to fit in the same book. Some were pretty chaste and only hinted at intimacy and others were a good deal steamier. Nothing too explicit though (no throbbing love muscles) and the words used were scientific or common usage terms. I am NOT a fan of sexy scenes but nothing in here was objectionable. The best friend talked a little too much about orgasms and it did start to get annoying... do people really talk that much about orgasms with their best friends?  I sure don't!  

All in all this is a feel-good tale about three women finding love. The men were all super charming and pretty standard chick lit "awesome". I think it would have been fun to have more of the flower shop cards in the book. It's a sweet, light read... good for a day at the pool or curled up under a blanket with a cup of hot tea.  

**Find “Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop”:

Amazon-US (Kindle and paperback) * Amazon-UK * Amazon-Canada * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * Goodreads

BioPic


About the author: Isabella grew up with a book in her hand, and to this day nothing has changed. She focuses her time on featuring other writers on her blog, Chick Lit Goddess, along with organizing Goddess Book Tours, and is a member of the Romance Writers of America. She lives in Dallas with her husband, enjoys spicy Mexican food, margaritas, gin on the rocks (with a splash of lime). She loves spending time with family and friends and cheering on the Texas Rangers. Not only is Isabella an author, she’s also a Scentsy consultant and hoarder. Isabella is the author of The Right Design and Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop. Her short story, “Meet Me Under the Mistletoe,” was featured in Simon & Fig’s Christmas anthology, Merry & Bright. She’s currently working on another book.   **Contact: Website * Chick Lit Goddess Website * Facebook * Goodreads * Instagram – Isabella Louise Anderson * Instagram – Chick Lit Goddess * Pinterest * Twitter * Sign up for her Newsletter

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Happy Caturday #4

This is a book blog first and foremost, but it's also a book blog written by someone owned by cats. So every Saturday is officially Caturday here at Purrfectly Bookish. I'll share images and tales of my own kitties and any others I meet each week. I also volunteer at the local animal shelter so you may see some sweet adoptables here too. If you have an awesome kitty, doggy, peeg, ratty or any other pet you would like to see here, you can either comment with a link to a picture or email me about sharing your cute pictures on some Caturday Saturday. 

More kitties and a PEEG this week. Share your photo links in the comments or contact me about having  your sweet fur babies (or scaled babies or feathered babies...) featured on a future Caturday.  


Pat from Durham, NC, USA
My little angel, Pat. She is 4 pounds of fierce personality and sweet power!


Java from St. Joseph, MO, USA
¡Yo quiero Taco Bell bag! 


Mr. Alexander Rozhenko Piggy, of the Houses of Mogh from Kansas City, MO, USA
And his owner's favorite book!


Thursday, February 23, 2017

TBT Review: A Theory of Expanded Love by Caitlin Hicks

Purrfectly Bookish: A Theory of Expanded Love by Caitlin Hicks
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!


A Theory of Expanded Love by Caitlin Hicks 
Publisher: Light Messages Publishing
Publication Date: June 12, 2015
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
TBT Review Date: June 12, 2015

Publisher's Description

Trapped in her enormous, devout Catholic family in 1963, Annie creates a hilarious campaign of lies when the pope dies and their family friend, Cardinal Stefanucci, is unexpectedly on the short list to be elected the first American pope. Driven to elevate her family to the holiest of holy rollers in the parish, Annie is tortured by her own dishonesty. But when "The Hands" visit her in her bed and when her sister finds herself facing a scandal, Annie discovers her parents will do almost anything to 
uphold their reputation and keep their secrets safe. Questioning all she has believed and torn between her own gut instinct and years of Catholic guilt, Annie takes courageous risks to wrest salvation from the tragic sequence of events set in motion by her parents’ betrayal. 

My Review


I received a complimentary copy of A Theory of Expanded Love in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

I grew up in a bad Catholic family in a very Catholic neighborhood. "Bad" because there were only two kids - ten years apart. My parents had even set out only to have two kids, only they had wanted two close together. I had other ideas and arrived ten years after my sister. Marie was born in 1961 and I was born in 1971 so we are both a bit behind the age and time of Annie, but many of her experiences rang true. 

Annie is #6 out of thirteen children in a large, strict Catholic family. The author continues to number the kids for the first part of the book and it helps in keeping track of who is who. Her father is authoritarian, recently retired from the Navy, and her mother seems almost mentally absent from the kids for much of the book - or at least from Annie. Annie is portrayed as her father's favorite and her sister, Jeannie (#7), as her mother's. 

Annie is twelve going on thirteen. As the veil of childhood is pulled back from Annie's eyes, she starts developing a critical, self-thinking view of the world. This doesn't go well with the strict Catholic upbringing her father is so much trying to inflict on his children. The father  brags to everyone about his large family and prides himself on being one of the best Catholic families at St. Andrews, but then he also criticizes the kids that he was held back from promotions and doesn't have a life of luxury because of them. This is an emotionally, and sometimes, physically, abusive man. But despite all his attempts at tight control, his kids are growing up and making their own choices. He betrays his children at many turns to preserve his reputation over what is best for his family. As Annie sees these betrayals, especially to her sister Clara and to Annie herself, her eyes are opened to the hypocrisy. 

Abuse is a central theme in this book. There is emotional abuse, physical abuse and mild sexual abuse ("The Hands"). There is only one very vivid scene when the father is using a leather belt on Annie's hand at the dinner table in front of the whole family. I tend to be sensitive about scenes of abuse in books but I was not bothered by anything in this novel.

I think anyone from a big Catholic family (or any big family) could commiserate and feel compassion for Annie and her plight. It also provides an interesting window into the life of a big family and a Catholic family for anyone from neither. While the main character is a 12 year old girl, I think the ideal reading age is a little older than that. It didn't read as a middle grade novel at all. Times have certainly changes since the 1960s and it is very evident in this book. It definitely makes the case for the world being a much better place today than in 1963 so I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone nostalgic about a bygone era. The author does not paint a rosy tale. It is a great Coming of Age story about Annie and I really enjoyed it. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cover Reveal: Shattered Fates by Rebecca Roland

Purrfectly Bookish Cover Reveal: Shattered Fates by Rebecca Roland
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Shattered Fates by Rebecca Roland
Publisher: World Weaver Press
Publication Date: May 23, 2017

I am so excited to be a part of the cover reveal for Rebecca Roland's latest book, Shattered Fates. Full disclosure, Rebecca is a friend of mine. I love her Shards of History series independently of that friendship but it is super fun to know the author of a favorite series. I really enjoy fantasy fiction and the world building in this series is very good and very different. Rather than the usual medieval slant most fantasy fiction uses, the Shards of History series is built on the Native American cultures of the Southwest United States. 

The release date for Shattered Fates is May 23, 2017.  I will post my review of this third and final visit with Malia and the Taakwa people closer to that date. I will be sharing my reviews on the first two books in the series soon on my Throwback Thursday feature. The publisher has recently redesigned the covers on Shards of History and Fractured Days so I wanted to share those as well.  

If you haven't started the series yet, you still have plenty of time to get books 1 and 2 read before May!  What are you waiting for?





   
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Happy Caturday #3

This is a book blog first and foremost, but it's also a book blog written by someone owned by cats. So every Saturday is officially Caturday here at Purrfectly Bookish. I'll share images and tales of my own kitties and any others I meet each week. I also volunteer at the local animal shelter so you may see some sweet adoptables here too. If you have an awesome kitty, doggy, peeg, ratty or any other pet you would like to see here, you can either comment with a link to a picture or email me about sharing your cute pictures on some Caturday Saturday. 

The shared photos are starting to roll in!!!  Check out these cute pets!  


Kitler from Mobile, AL, USA

Oskar from San Diego, CA, USA
He had been rescued from the streets....a friend said she saw a man killing cats in an alley, and he was saved from that scene. He's a gorgeous softy lumpy lump, still scared of a lot of things, but we love him.



Up for Adoption: Sydney http://kcregap.org/greyhound-for-adoption/sydney/
Sydney from Kansas City, MO,USA
 This is our foster dog Sydney. She is a sweet, affectionate greyhound mix (lurcher) looking for a loving forever family with a good tall fence. Her adoption page is here: http://kcregap.org/greyhound-for-adoption/sydney/



Friday, February 17, 2017

Kids' Review: The Storybook Knight by Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty

Purrfectly Bookish Kids' Review: The Storybook Knight
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

The Storybook Knight by Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publication Date: September 6th 2016
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Publisher's Description


Can a story save the kingdom?

When Leo's mom and dad send him off to fight a dragon, he takes a shield, a sword--and a pile of his favorite books. 

But can a story be as mighty as a sword?

My Review

This is a super sweet rhyming book about a knight who would rather read a good story then battle a dragon. His parents have other ideas. So he packs his sword, shield, and, of course, books and heads off on adventure. In the end, stories save the day as he meets an interesting cast of characters along his journey.

This is just a darling book. We love nearly all things dragons in this family and this sweet knight wouldn't hurt a scale. The illustrations are colorful, featuring many adorable animals in the fairytale land. Even the scary creatures our brave knight meets are pretty darn cute! Parents will love the message that books, brains and kindness can save the day. Kids will love the rhyming and the fantastical illustrations. 

Miss R's Review

It's about dragons. The knight helps save all these crazy monsters who try to attack things. He is nice and reads them books and let's them keep the books. The dragon even helps clean up his mess. Some dragons aren't very polite, but he learned the polite thing to do from the knight. It's good for kids who like adventure, reading and dragons. It helps people see reading as a good thing. I hope you like this book if you read it for yourself.  



For more reviews of books for children and teens, check out Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection, posted on Saturdays. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, you can go to her site to leave a comment and your link .

Thursday, February 16, 2017

TBT Review: See You Soon Broadway by Melissa Baldwin

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!


See You Soon Broadway by Melissa Baldwin
Publisher: Author Published
Publication Date: August 11, 2015
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
TBT Review Date: September 21, 2015

Publisher's description


Maris Forrester has a wonderful life with an amazing boyfriend and a fulfilling job. She’s happy and content . . . or so she thinks. Maris has always had huge dreams of being on Broadway. Ever since her very first performance as a child, she has envisioned herself on the stage under the shining lights. Now she has to decide whether she should to give up her wonderful life to chase those dreams. 

When her parents announce they are moving, she comes across a long-lost family treasure. She doesn’t realize that this treasure may hold the key to her future and to all her dreams coming true. 

And if that wasn’t sign enough, a mysterious stranger throws another wrench in the mix at a dazzling rooftop party benefiting the Arts. These could be signs of things to come. 

But will she remain content in her perfect world, or will she step into the unknown world she has always dreamed of? 

My Review 


I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Maris Forrester has reached a point in life when she has to decide how to move forward. She can either settle down into her comfortable relationship and her comfortable job or chance losing it all in order to follow her dream of performing on Broadway. Having made a similar decision myself years ago - and having chosen the comfortable, less risky route - this book brought up lots of old “what ifs” for me as I read it. One of Maris’s concerns is that she’ll later regret not at least trying to follow her dream. Boy howdy! Yes - she would have regrets. But, that being said, regrets aren’t so bad and whatever path you choose can bring you other joys you wouldn’t have had on another path. (Yes - that’s a bit of advice from someone who chose the other path).  

I enjoyed this book. There’s a little bit of Maris in all us and I think most readers will be able to relate to her inner turmoil. Her friends and family are great! Her Zen-like sister and supportive best friend really help Maris move forward and make her decision. There is a bit of a “magical” element around Maris’s grandmother that actually still fits in this not-really fantasy book. My one gripe is the “love triangle”. It might have read better had Trevor, the other man, been fleshed out a little better and their connection dealt with a little more. Maris’s steady boyfriend, Kyle, is described in detail without any downsides assigned to him (other than his unwillingness to move to NYC). Maris spends a lot of time griping about Trevor so he didn’t really seem like a legitimate love interest and especially not one who could steal Maris away from someone as terrific as Kyle. 

I won’t tell you Maris’s ultimate decision (as if the book title doesn’t hint loudly at it) for the journey getting to that decision is really what this book is about. Recommended to anyone who enjoys chick lit with a little romance and personal growth. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Monthly Manly Review #1: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Purrfectly Bookish Monthly Manly Review #1

It seems like the majority of book bloggers are women and studies have shown that women read more than men. That's not true in our house! My husband, Jason, reads almost as much as I do. We tend to pick different genres (he likes sci-fi more, I like fantasy more), but I still love discussing books with him. It's special to share a fondness for a book - or even just get the chance to "read" a book through the description from your spouse. The Monthly Manly Review is Jason's contribution to Purrfectly Bookish. Along with his review, there is a linky below for other male bloggers to share their reviews - or for female bloggers who have convinced the men in their lives to write a review for their blog. [This meme started on my old blog. I am starting the numbering over again for Purrfectly Bookish. ]

Purrfectly Bookish: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: October 8th 2013 
Jason's Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Publisher's Description


With what should have been the greatest heist of their career gone spectacularly sour, Locke and his trusted partner, Jean, have barely escaped with their lives. Or at least Jean has. But Locke is slowly succumbing to a deadly poison that no alchemist or physiker can cure. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmage offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him or finish him off once and for all.

Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body—though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring—and the Bondsmage’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past: Sabetha. She is the love of his life, his equal in skill and wit, and now, his greatest rival.

Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha—or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend.

Jason's Review

I have mixed feelings about reviewing later-in-series books without having reviewed prior books, but since the blogmistress demands content, content she shall have.  The Republic of Thieves is the third installment in the Gentleman Bastards series, a fantasy caper series centering around Locke Lamora and his partner-in-crime Jean, two thieves who find themselves wrapped up in not only deeply complicated criminal endeavors, but larger intrigues as well. I found the first two installments very entertaining, and was happy to get to read the third. I came away satisfied with the book, but somewhat less so than I did with the prior two installments. 

Locke and Jean find themselves drawn into running a political campaign in a city controlled by magicians called the Bondsmagi. Their plans and plots are complicated by Locke and Jean’s difficult history with the Bondsmagi, but also by the presence of Sabetha, a former Bastard and love interest of Locke’s. 

This plot is intertwined with a flashback story involving the full Gentleman Bastard crew when they were much younger, and traveled to be part of a theater troupe that performed the play which gives this book its title. This play is within a smaller play within the larger narrative play, a feat that Scott Lynch technically pulls off very well. Both storylines were well-paced with one another, and even though we know the general outcome of the flashback storyline (as it relates to Locke and Sabetha), the “how they get there” is fresh enough to maintain interest. 

In fact, the resolution to the main story lines (the election rigging caper and the story of the two crossed loves) was also well done, and in the end satisfying (if not entirely happy). I enjoyed the book well enough to recommend it, as long as you have read and enjoyed the prior two books. The investment we make in characters over several stories really carries this book, and as such I can’t recommend it as a standalone story, but the series is fun as a fantasy novel in which magic exists, but isn’t utilized by our main characters. In this way, this series is more crime caper than fantasy novel, and that is where I think the author’s strengths lie. 

I was left a bit cold by the inclusion of the final epilogue to the story. I found it a bit unneeded to finish the tale that was really being told, and it seems to me the only purpose for it was to set up the next chapter in the series (which I am yet to read). As a novel-length story, a cliffhanger for the next book feels a bit cheap and unneeded. 

All that being said, I am looking forward to reading the fourth installment in the series, so this fault I call out isn’t fatal to my enjoyment of Locke and Jean and their adventures together.









Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Review: The Cupcake Caper by Kelle Z. Riley

Purrfectly Bookish Review: The Cupcake Caper by Kelle Z. Riley
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

The Cupcake Caper by Kelle Z. Riley
Publisher: Curtis Brown Unlimited
Publication Date:  September 29th 2016
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Publisher's Description

Science is about solving puzzles. Why should solving a murder be any different? Dr. Bree Watson (aka Gabriella Catherine Mayfield-Watson) is comfortable solving chemistry problems. She isn't comfortable finding her boss dead and being a suspect in his poisoning. Now she's juggling: A sexy marketing manager-who may, or may not-be a contract killer. A handsome lead detective whose interest goes beyond the case. The dead man's cranky cat. A goose-chasing dog in hot water with an animal rights group. The search for the perfect cupcake recipe. And, of course, someone who wants her out of the picture. And she thought getting a Ph.D. was hard." 

My Review

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.com in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

I like cozy mysteries... especially ones with cats or dogs or other adorable pets who get involved with solving crime. You need to engage in a little willful suspension of disbelief when it comes to cozy mysteries. Some of my favorite mystery solvers are librarians, pet store managers, retirees - ordinary people who have a knack for sorting out clues to figure out whodunnit. I found Ms. Riley's choice of a scientist for her Sherlock-esque heroine, Dr. Bree Mayfield-Watson, in this book to be inspired. You really could see someone who is very analytical tackling solving a mystery for the sheer sake of discovery! This first in a series has the ubiquitous plot device of our main character being a suspect in a murder case - a story line often used to get an ordinary person involved in solving a crime in order to clear their name. Given how logical and left-brained Bree is, I think she could become engaged in figuring out who murdered her boss without that particular plot device.  

I was annoyed - put off, maybe? - a little by a couple unlikely choices Bree made, particularly when she withheld information from the police. Given that she endangered herself at almost every instance of this, I hope our main character learns in future additions to the series! The plot twist at the end was fun and is definitely setting up for a new twist on the cozy mystery genre with this series. I will definitely read the next book in the series when it comes out (no date given yet).  

I can't forget to mention Sherlock - and I don't mean Bree. Sherlock is the cat Bree winds up with. Sherlock helps Bree solve the mystery. He is one smart kitty. I definitely hope we see as much and more of him in future installments. So, yes, even with our analytical, scientist heroine, there's a cute pet involved. There is no romance yet in the series either though there is potential for it. I do like to highlight when there is "sexy" content in a book and there is none in this book. Just some possibly too-goofy ogling of two men in Bree's life.  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Happy Caturday #2

This is a book blog first and foremost, but it's also a book blog written by someone owned by cats. So every Saturday is officially Caturday here at Purrfectly Bookish. I'll share images and tales of my own kitties and any others I meet each week. I also volunteer at the local animal shelter so you may see some sweet adoptables here too. If you have an awesome kitty you would like to see here, you can either comment with a link to a picture or email me about sharing your cute pictures on some Caturday Saturday. 
Bodhicitta might be just a teensy-weensy bit spoiled.

Luna pondering Life, the Universe and Everything.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Kids' Review: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Purrfectly Bookish Kids' Review: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 30th 2016
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Publisher's Description

Inspired by her childhood love of books like The Secret Garden and The Chronicles of Narnia, bestselling author Tahereh Mafi crafts a spellbinding new world where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places.

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. It will take all of Alice's wits (and every limb she's got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.


My Review

Life is pretty rough for Alice. In a world full of color and magic, Alice has no color and a magic skill she'd rather forget. To make matters worse, her father disappeared three years ago and her mother is taking her grief out on Alice. When her Surrender goes badly, and the boy who called her ugly won't leave her alone, she decides to embark on a journey into the dangerous land of Furthermore on a quest to find her father. I read this to my daugher and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. The pacing was good with nice waves of excitement and relative calm with many interesting people and places along the journey. While clearly influenced by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, it is a most entertaining tale in its own right. 

The author does a remarkable job of painting a vivid picture of the colorful land of Ferenwood and the mixed-up chaotic land of Furthermore. The story is told from the perspective of an unknown third person who we learn along the way is relating this story as told to them by Alice. The narrator directly addresses the reader on many occasions (is it still called "breaking the fourth wall" in a book?) which has the potential to be distracting but it didn't distract in this book. My only minor complaint is that the ending arrives a bit too quickly (and unexpectedly), but I'm not sure I'd have liked it any better had the timing been different. The author has left it open for the possibility of a sequel and my daughter and I are both hoping this is true. We need to know what happens to Alice next!

I'm not normally a collector of quotes as I read... but Furthermore had THREE quotes that made me stop and ponder (and snap a picture with my phone so I could remember them later). 

---Laughter was a silk that would soften even the roughest moments. 

---They two had torn holes in each other, and the wounds, unhealed, had only led to more pain. 

---The simple truth was that Alice would always be different - but to be different was to be extraordinary, and to be extraordinary was an adventure. It no longer mattered how the world saw her; what mattered was how Alice saw herself. 


Miss R's Review

I really like Furthermore because it's very adventurous. It is a little dark at times, for instance, when Alice's arm gets pulled off (I don't want to give too many spoilers).  I would say that if you are concerned about a book where a parent has gone missing, it might be too scary. But it is heartwarming at the end. My favorite character is Alice because she is adventurous and she doesn't let anything stop her, even though she runs into problems. I'm really hoping there is a sequel! I recommend it to kids who like heartwarming stories, adventure and a little bit of scariness and craziness happening. 


For more reviews of books for children and teens, check out Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection, posted on Saturdays. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, you can go to her site to leave a comment and your link .



Thursday, February 9, 2017

TBT Review: Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain


TBT Review: Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
My rating: 5 stars out of 5 
TBT Review Date: October 5, 2015


Publisher's Description


Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She lives in San Diego with a husband she adores, and they are trying to adopt a baby because they can't have a child on their own. But the process of adoption brings to light many questions about Molly's past and her family-the family she left behind in North Carolina twenty years before. The mother she says is dead but who is very much alive. The father she adored and whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison's Ridge. Her own birth mother whose mysterious presence in her family raised so many issues that came to a head. The summer of twenty years ago changed everything for Molly and as the past weaves together with the present story, Molly discovers that she learned to lie in the very family that taught her about pretending. If she learns the truth about her beloved father's death, can she find peace in the present to claim the life she really wants?


My Review

Oh the tears! Do yourself a favor and have tissue close by. What a compelling book - so many emotions, so much hurt over so many years with a beautiful, beautiful conclusion. Pretending to Dance is told in first person from the perspective of Molly - Molly both as a 38 year old attorney who seemingly has it all together and a 14 year old girl in the worst summer of her life.

Modern day Molly and her husband Aidan have it all together and are living an active, fulfilled life - or so it seems. After having a tragic miscarriage that leaves her unable to have children, they are pursuing an open adoption. Aidan comes from a deeply, loving family while Molly has no living parents - or at least that what she has told Aidan. But as Molly comes to terms with all the emotions surrounding adopting a child, she finds that she must also come to terms with her past. 

We visit Molly’s past through the eyes of a 14 year old on the cusp of young womanhood. She sits between the little girl world of boy band crushes and the all-too-real world of older boys and dangerously foolhardy friends. She is a devoted daughter to her father, a brilliant therapist who is rapidly losing the fight to MS. Molly is, through and through, a Daddy’s Girl and, as such, is not close to her mother, Nora. Tragedy strikes that fateful summer and Molly always blames Nora. 

The tale is woven beautifully. Ms. Chamberlain takes the reader to the idyllic Swannanoa Mountains in Western North Carolina to the homestead of Molly’s extended family.Your heart aches for Molly. Even in the mistakes made by a young teen, the ones you can see coming from a mile away as the reader takes it in with an adult eye and adult knowledge, will leave you aching for this woman and the pain that she’s going through. The story centers a lot on adoption and all the myriad emotions that go along with it. It also delves deeply into the death of a beloved parent and the challenges an end-stage illness brings to everyone in a family. There is some relatively graphic sexual content (in scenes with the aforementioned “older boy”) that make this an adult book. All of these deeply emotional situations were woven together into a masterful story with a gratifyingly redemptive ending. Ms. Chamberlain’s writing swept me away into Molly’s world and had me wishing I could just give her a much needed hug - both scared and lonely teenaged Molly and scared and worried adult Molly. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Review: Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple


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Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: October 4th 2016 
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Publisher's Description

Eleanor knows she's a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won't swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother's company. It's also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he's on vacation. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret. 

TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living. 

My Review

We are back in Portland and in the shadows of Maria Semple's prior book, Where'd You Go, Bernadette?  I rather enjoyed that book and laughed my way through it. The writing style was unique and it told an entertaining story through a very odd and circuitous way.  Today Will Be Different is not a sequel to that book but we do recognize some locations (Galer Street School) and there are a couple mentions of characters from the Bernadette book. I'll be blunt... this book is just not as good. The protagonist Eleanor comes across as unbelievably scattered, manic and altogether self absorbed. 

Eleanor starts out determined that "today will be different" but you get the sense throughout that, as wild as this day is, it really isn't all that different. She hates her best friend, is terrible to her son and is so self absorbed, her husband chooses to not share a very important thing in his life because he believes she wouldn't understand and support him! This is not a likeable person! And while there can be value in reading unlikeable characters, I didn't find the value in reading about this unlikeable character. I did give it three stars though since the writing is good and I did laugh... there were funny bits mixed in with all the mania.  I just really can't recommend it though. Don't let this be your first book by this author and don't waste your time if you liked Where'd You Go, Bernadette?  


Review: Dream Eater by K. Bird Lincoln

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